There is an old saying “experience is the best teacher”. However I hold a different view that “the experience of others is the best teacher”.
There are many things in life which we may not have personally experienced but we can still learn from the consequences of others who took certain actions.
I am of the view that life will be very risky if we all want to find out certain things for ourselves before we learn from them. We would surely land in deep waters if we did that. I remember listening to an interview of the late Kiki Gyan.
Here was a man who knew the effects of drugs on the body and therefore refused to try it out even though his friends were urging him to do so. His struggle with drug addition began the day be buckled under the pressure to find out what it was like to take hard drugs.
There is one phenomenon which has been going on for ages. It is the use of skin lightening creams mainly among those of dark complexion.
In many parts of the world a fairer lighter skin is highly valued and many women start using skin lightening creams when they are quite young.
There are many people walking around with damaged skins, yet many young women want to experience what it's like to have damaged skin!
I came across an elderly woman who can best be described as having a frightful appearance. Her skin had been subjected to years of skin lightening creams leaving dark patches on her face which were rather unsightly.
I have great difficulty in describing anyone as not good looking but some people are working very hard to earn that description.
Many pretty young ladies have unfortunately fallen for the use of skin lightening creams and one of the attendant effects is the development of an offensive body odour.
I recently saw a lady who I had not seen for nearly a month and immediately noticed that she was looking fairer than usual.
I asked her why she had suddenly become fairer and her explanation was that she was using a skin cream to fight pimples and this was the cause of her sudden change in colour.
I advised her to stop using that cream because I did not need to be a prophet to predict that if she continued with the practice her skin was likely to be damaged and there was also the possibility that she would smell like a skunk.
Why do I feel so strongly about this issue? The reasons are very simple and not very hard to fathom. A lot of these skin lightening products contain steroids.
Although steroids can be useful in treating some skin diseases, such as psoriasis and eczema, this must take place under supervision of a skin specialist and when these are not monitored can lead to many health problems.
Steroids may cause permanent skin bleaching, thinning of skin, development of visible blood vessels, uneven colour leading to a blotchy appearance, redness, intense irritation, and blue-black discolouration of skin.
Apart from steroids many skin lightening creams contain hydroquinone which can cause cancer. It may also cause increased appetite and weight gain, deposits of fat in chest, face, upper back, and stomach, swelling, acne, muscle weakness and thinning of the skin.
Some creams have higher than normal mercury levels which can poison their bodies. Toxic levels of mercury lead to mercury poisoning which causes nerve and kidney damage.
Skin lightening products reduce the amount of melanin making the body more vulnerable to the ultra violet (UV) rays and thus to skin cancer and ageing.
There was this story in the UK where doctors were left confused by the symptoms presented by a woman who had no reason for her weight gain, stretch or stripe marks and inability to conceive.
It was only after further questioning that she admitted using a skin lightening product.
The product Clobetasol , which is illegal in the European Union, contained high levels of the steroids typically prescribed for skin conditions known as eczema and psoriasis, and should be used only for up to two weeks at a time.
This woman had exceeded the recommended usage, using two tubes of clobetasol a week for over seven years.
Many people will rarely admit that they are using such creams to lighten their skin. The skin creams can indeed reduce the appearances of skin blemishes and discoloration and so many people will tell you they use the creams to even out their skin tone because of irregular pigmentation and because certain areas of the skin are darker than others.
The truth is that most skin lightening products don't actually bleach the skin. They actually limit the output of melanin. They often contain a compound known as hydroquinone which has been considered the most effective skin whitening agent which but makes your skin look like a grater.
By the time this happens the damage cannot be corrected. You just have to live with it. The sale of creams containing hydroquinone has been banned in the European Union, Australia, and Japan
People often ridicule the singer Michael Jackson for looking more white than black. The truth is that he suffers from a skin condition called vitiligo which results in loss of skin colour in patches throughout the face and body.
More than a decade ago he used powerful skin-lightening medication to blend his naturally brown skin colour with the area of his skin which had white patches and the result is now there for all to see.
As long as there are advertisements in the media encouraging people to change or hide what they don't like about their looks, the practice of using skin lightening creams is likely to continue.
Given that chemical skin lightening has a range of serious side effects, the best advice would be to stay clear of such products and be happy to be in your skin. You certainly do not need experience to teach you what it's like to have an unsightly skin.